VANCOUVER, BC – The boisterous BC Place crowd of 25,348 rose to its feet as Alphonso Davies left the match in the 86th minute, signalling the end of his time with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
It was a moment Davies will never forget. And neither will Simon Colyn.
Colyn, 16, entered the match in place of Davies, making his pro debut and becoming the second youngest ‘Caps players to appear in Major League Soccer – following Davies of course.
67 forever. @AlphonsoDavies leaves the @BCPlace pitch to a standing ovation in his final match with #VWFC. You’ve made us proud, young man. You’ve made us proud. #FarewellPhonzie pic.twitter.com/q5amLOvAXz— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 28, 2018
You can call it a passing of the torch, as many have.
But acting Whitecaps FC head coach Craig Dalrymple, who knows Colyn well from his post as Academy technical director, was quick to pour cold water on any comparisons with the Bayern-bound Davies.
“He’s an extremely intelligent footballer,” Dalrymple said of Colyn. “He’s not Alphonso and we don’t want him to be Alphonso. He’s Simon Colyn and he has different qualities.”
One of the main reasons Davies managed to step in and contribute right away was because of his physical attributes. Colyn needs a “little bit more maturation and time” in that regard, Dalrymple said, but there’s certainly a “spark” he brings to the game.
That was on full display when he got his first preseason minutes with the first-team back in February, and it was on display again on Sunday afternoon.
Colyn, in fact, nearly scored on his first touch, lobbing the keeper after making a perfectly-timed diagonal run but admittedly got caught in two minds and sent his attempt wide.
Regardless, the Langley native has left a positive impression on his teammates.
“The senior players were begging me to get him into the game, not just today but earlier games, because they see real talent in him,” Dalrymple told reporters following the match. “And there are more Simon Colyns in the pipeline. The future over the next five to 10 years for the young players coming through the system is really bright.”
Colyn, for example, was one of five Homegrown players signed this season, including David Norman Jr., Sean Melvin, Theo Bair, and Michael Baldisimo. That’s something Dalrymple also spoke about last week when asked about his takeaways from serving as acting head coach.
“During my four or five weeks here, we’ve incorporated a number of young players, all the way from 15-year-olds to 19-year-old teenagers,” he said. “The blessing for me being in this role is that I’ve been intimately involved in it. I understand the level more."
And based on his learnings, Dalrymple said there are young Whitecaps FC Academy products who are ready to push for minutes in 2019.
“One hundred per cent,” he said. “I believe more now in the youth than I did five weeks ago. I think the players are now ready. I understand that the gap that we talk about being very big is actually a lot smaller for some players.”